To Whom It May Concern:
I have read your proposal to change the weight and size limits for lifts. Apparently it is more important to please the lobbyist and manufacturers than to consider the safety of the clients and workers. Just ask yourself how safe can it be to transport an individual strapped to 500 pound chair with wheels, now picture making the chair bigger and heavier. It is amazing to me when I hear about a non-ambulatory person that has just bought a new wheelchair and they were told by the manufacturer that they need three batteries so they can go faster and longer, when I know the person can’t handle the speed or distance of his/her old one battery operated wheelchair. I have seen time and time again where no consideration is taken to whether the person needs a faster and larger wheelchair. The large majority of non-ambulatory people that we serve can’t even afford an accessible home, but get sold on this one time offer for a new bigger wheelchair. They are told that this is a one time grant and they have to get it all now or never. So they are convinced by a salesperson who thrives on commission that this salesperson knows what is best for them or tells them how much more independent it will make them. Feeding on people’s dreams should not be promoted in anyway especially when it is not true. Some of our riders have returned to their old dumpy manual chairs because they come to the conclusion that they were sold a wheelchair to big and awkward to use. We have gone to sights where a customer can’t maneuver safely into his/her own doorway because they just got a new wheelchair with all the bells and whistles. We’ve received a call about if we could help someone stranded because they broke through the wheelchair ramp with their big new wheelchair. How big and dangerous do you let them get. Making these changes will affect our service in many ways one of which will cause us to change the job description thus informing our union staff that they are now required to maneuver bigger and heavier wheelchairs. We already have quite a few workman compensation injuries due to having to get the chair aligned properly for it to be secured. I am guessing that none of you have worked in a paratransit vehicle and had to load four wheelchairs at a time or you wouldn’t even consider this. I appreciate you asking for comments, but unless someone goes out and ask some of the workers and customers who live this daily you will not get a true picture of how much harm this will cause those who truly depend on and perform the service. I am sure the manufacturers have found some individuals that will testify about the need, so that is why it is important for you to randomly call or visit the true public.
Please take into consideration how these little changes will lead to a huge wave of problems before they are done, thank you!
Director of Johnson County SEATS
2000 James St., Suite 111
Coralville, IA. 52241
(319) 339-6128 ext. 6